My earliest memories of my elementary and middle school Scholastic Book Fairs saw massive collections of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps, loads of nonsensical ’90s tech, and the burgeoning mystery genre before it really took off in young adult literature. Super hero graphic novels were almost nonexistent for kids and teenagers in school spaces in the late ’90s and early 2000s, so it goes without saying that best-selling author Justin A. Reynolds (Opposite of Always) and Eisner-nominated artist Pablo Leon’sMiles Morales: Shock Waves is a gift to the teen in me.
In the first of two episodes of Hard NOC Life releasing this week, Keithsits down with Broadway superstar and now, children’s book author, Mandy Gonzalez to talk about her new middle grade novel, Fearless. They also talk about her career — from originating the role of Nina for In the Heights to replacing Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica in Hamilton — and why being fearless has helped her cope while Broadway is shut down.
When you first hear about the upcoming Disney+ film, Flora & Ulysses, you wonder just how Newbury Award-winning author and executive producer Kate DiCamillo came up with the idea of a girl and her superhero squirrel. The film, which premieres this Friday, tells the story of Flora, an avid comic book fan and self-avowed cynic, whose parents have separated. After saving a squirrel after being sucked up by an out-of-control vacuum, Flora names her new furry friend, Ulysses. She discovers, like the comic books, that Ulysses possesses unique superhero powers that help change Flora’s outlook on life for the better.
Last week, Halloween came a bit early, as Warner Bros. brought the big screen home with The Witches on HBO Max. The highly anticipated retelling of the classic Roald Dahl book enchanted viewers and showcased that director Robert Zemeckis, and executive producers Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron, as well as Oscar-winning stars Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer, have exactly what it takes to make an old classic feel fresh and fun! However one of the biggest surprises the film had to offer was the discovery of its breakout young performer, Jahzir Bruno, in his debut film role!
Southern Fried Asian returns with a brand new episode! Keith is joined by Soman Chainani, the New York Times-bestselling author of the hit children’s fantasy series, the School For Good and Evil. The fifth book in the series, A Crystal of Time, is available now wherever books are sold.
On an unusually grey and overcast December day in the typically cheery city of Beverly Hills, a stage was set with early 20th century lamplights and trees covered with cherry blossoms. The backdrop of the stage featured a gorgeously blue, cloudy horizon over a beautiful Depression-era English city, setting the magical mood that would transport guests of the Mary Poppins Returns press conference from a modern city in California to a timeless and familiar place underneath the lovely London sky: No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane — a location everyone had visited so many times in their childhood days.
Everyone has their own memory of Winnie-the-Pooh, aka Pooh bear. Whether it was hearing him ask for honey or the sweet cries of ‘oh bother’ when he was unsure of what to do, we all have memories of A.A.Milne’s beloved creation. The story of Pooh has been around for almost 95 years, so it’s no surprise that many adaptations have been made to tell the story of the darling bear.
At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.
This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.
As a parent of color it is very difficult to find children’s books that reflect how diverse our world actually is. When we do find books, many of them are about historical figures, historical events, or rooted in surviving tragedies. This is what makes El Primer Corte de Mesita de Furqan (Furqan’s First Flat Top) such a wonderful addition to the POC children’s book canon.
One of the most serious jobs I have as a father is to get my daughter hooked on books. When I was a little boy, my father taught me how to walk to the Franklin Avenue library and back to our house, which cut down on my begging for toys and the Atari 2600 while keeping me out of gangs and other trouble in our neighborhood. It was in books that I learned that other worlds existed, and indulged (perhaps too much) in fantasizing I was someone else, somewhere else. In my dreams, I often imagined myself as white because all the characters in the books, the myths, the comic books I liked so much were almost always white. They were so unlike myself and my family: poor, alien, shouted at in the streets as Americans of all colors blamed us for the sorrow and hurt of the Vietnam War. So in my dreams I made myself white, too. Handsome, brave, heroic, perfect. Call it a nerd refugee survival mechanism.
The recent death of celebrated author Walter Dean Myers has seemingly left a void in that corner of Young Adult literature that is aware of representation and diversity, and produces works of fiction populated with a rainbow coalition of characters. It seems like every week I’m reading something about the lack of diversity and representation in YA (as well as comics and films and whatever else you care to throw into the mix), much like this piece. And now that Myers is gone, he can join the list of authors frequently cited as those that did the most for those who are represented the least.
Unfortunately, while he was alive, a significant amount of what was written about the lack of diversity in YA failed to mention Myers and his work — which speaks to a problem almost as bad as the lack of diversity itself. That problem, of course, is the lack of dialog about those books and those writers who do put in the work to ensure diversity and representation.
We are all saddened by the loss of Maya Angelou, who has passed away at the age of 86. Upon hearing about Angelou’s passing, I immediately thought about Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, a book published in the mid-1990s that paired her poetry with the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
As the father of two daughters of color, finding reading material and other media that both reflect back at them and reflect the wider, diverse world of which they are a part is important to me. The discussion around what kind of stories get told about what kind of characters and who gets to tell them is, sadly, not relegated to the realm of speculative fiction literature or literary fiction. The dismal state of affairs in the world of children’s literature was recently put in stark relief by the good people at Lee and Low Books, whose tagline is “About Everyone. For Everyone.”